123456: The worst passwords of 2011

If one of your passwords is "654321" or "superman" or "qazwsx" congratulations for having one of the least secure passwords of 2011.

Internet users never learn. No matter how many times we hear about obvious, hackable passwords, people keep using them. And the situation doesn't seem to be getting better.

Below is a list of the 25 worst passwords of 2011, compiled by SplashData. The security software developer generated the list from millions of actual stolen passwords, posted online by hackers. Not surprisingly, the most common passwords are also the worst, including "password," "123456" and "qwerty." Even passwords that seem kind of unique, like "trustno1" and "shadow" are actually quite common. And why does "monkey" always show up on these lists?

Anyway, here's the full list:

1. password

2. 123456

3. 12345678

4. qwerty

5. abc123

6. monkey

7. 1234567

8. letmein

9. trustno1

10. dragon

11. baseball

12. 111111

13. iloveyou

14. master

15. sunshine

16. ashley

17. bailey

18. passw0rd

19. shadow

20. 123123

21. 654321

22. superman

23. qazwsx

24. michael

25. football

SplashData has a few recommendations for keeping your data safe:

First, create a strong password consisting of letters, numbers and symbols. If you're worried about remembering long passwords, try using phrases of short words separated by underscores, such as "shiny_phones_rule_1." A phrase is easier to recall than a long, abstract mish-mash of characters.

Second, try not to spread the same password all over the Internet. At the very least, use separate passwords for important uses like online banking and e-mail. The last thing you want is for some poorly protected web forum to hold the same password as your bank account.

To make things super-simple, you can also use password management software, such as LastPass, Roboform, eWallet, SplashID or the free KeePass. These programs remember your passwords, allowing you to create long, complex strings of letters and numbers that you otherwise wouldn't be able to remember.

Also, see PCWorld's guide to creating better passwords, and advice on protecting your passwords. If you follow any of these tips, you're in better shape than the person who uses "abc123."

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Jared Newman

PC World (US online)
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